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Direct Certification

The Direct Certification Report is available for all school districts, including nonpublic schools through the Michigan Student Data System (MSDS).  The Direct Certification Report matches student enrollment data that Local Educational Agencies (LEAS) upload to the MSDS with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) participant data, as well as Foster Children data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  

Students on the Direct Certification Report are automatically certified as eligible for free school meals.  Each LEA must notify households with matched students that they are eligible for free school meals and no further application is necessary. If the household wants to decline the free school meals benefit they must notify the school. 

The Direct Certification Report must be pulled at a minimum of three times during the school year: 

  • At or around the beginning of the school year; 
  • Three months after the initial effort; and 
  • Six months after the initial effort. 

The Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI) will refresh the Direct Certification report monthly.  MDE encourages schools to pull the Direct Certification monthly to ensure all students eligible are receiving proper meal benefits.  The Direct Certification Report Timeline for School Year 2014-2015 is available at:,4546,7-113-986_50502_53828---,00.html 

The Direct Certification Report format in the MSDS has a column called "Eligibility Category" to easily identify a student certified via Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF), or foster child.

Each student will only have one designation in this column.  For example, if a student is a foster child and receives SNAP, the designation will be for SNAP.  For those students certified via SNAP and TANF, eligibility can be extended to additional children in a household. 

There is an "Exit Date" column that will be populated for any student the district reports as exited.  This change will help users identify and filter out students who were enrolled in the district and subsequently left during the school year.

To review a sample direct certification report with these changes:

  1. Go to
  2. Click on "CEPI Application", "Michigan Student Data System" then "Direct Certification Report" from the left navigation menu
  3. Click on the "Direct Certification Report Format for 2014-2015" link under "Direct Certification Help"

Direct Certification for Nonpublic Schools

Before the Direct Certification Report is accessible, nonpublic schools participating in the NSLP must upload student enrollment data to the MSDS. For a comprehensive presentation on the Direct Certification process for Nonpublic Schools, see the link to the PowerPoint presentation posted in the Related Documents below. 

For more detailed instruction on how to upload nonpublic school student enrollment, CEPI has the Direct Certification Report User's Guide - Nonpublic Schools is available at:

Questions regarding the technical MSDS computer applications may be directed to CEPI Customer Support by e-mail to  or phone 517-335-0505 and select option "3."  

Questions regarding the National School Lunch Program Direct Certification requirement may be directed to the School Nutrition Programs unit by e-mail to or phone 517-241-5374.